Santa Barbara Vintner's Visa / Passport (and suggested itinerary)

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(scroll down to read a suggested itinerary if traveling from Los Angeles)

*my tasting notes*

Ah, the dilemmas of visiting wine regions....

How many wineries can you go to? At $10 per tasting room (at least), the fees can add up.

You want to purchase wines, but again, it could end up costly. The more you drink, the more you want to bring the wine home (darn that warm, fuzzy, friendly, loving feeling that wine gives me!)

Which wineries do you choose to go to? In the Santa Barbara area, there are over 50 wineries to choose from, and so many well-crafted and delicious Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Syrahs to experience! Where do you even begin planning?

To solve your dilemma, I would suggest participating in visa/passport events. You purchase one ticket (usually about $40-50), which has several participating wineries on a checklist (at least 12). You go to as many of the wineries that your tolerance allows and get each of the places stamped (like a passport). The tastings are the same or better for visa/passport participants (who are usually offered snacks, a separate area to lounge in, and/or treated to reserve tastings). Want to bring wine home? Wineries usually offer amazing deals for the event!

I have participated in several passport/visa events in SB wine country, from vineyards on the countryside to tasting rooms in the quaint towns (most recently, the Santa Barbara Vintner's Visa).

After tasting through several Santa Barbara visas, I present my list of favorite wineries/tasting rooms in this region...
 click here for detailed map

Solvang (tasting rooms):
Lucas and Lewellen

Los Olivos (tasting rooms):
Daniel Gehrs

Santa Barbara (tasting rooms):
Santa Barbara Winery/ La Fond Winery
Oreana Winemaking Company

Santa Ynez (vineyards):

Foxen Canyon (vineyards):
Kenneth Volk
Zaca Mesa

Suggested FULL, 3-day itinerary if traveling from Los Angeles:

There are MANY other vineyards and tasting rooms to visit, but if it's your first time in this wine region, these are good ones to start with. Links to all wineries mentioned in the itinerary can be found in the list above (which is organized by area). Please read my tasting tips before going.

Day 1
Take 101N to the 154, which is indicated by "State Street" exit (the 154 is also known as the San Marcos Pass - BREATHTAKING views of the mountainside!) Eat breakfast at Los Olivos Grocery (their cafe has a pretty view). Visit Bridlewood (Santa Ynez), and then head to Los Olivos to explore. Eat lunch at Panino, and taste at Stolpman and Daniel Gehrs. After, head south on Alamo Pintado Road, hitting up Buttonwood and Rideau (Santa Ynez), and end up in Solvang to finish off your day of tasting with Mandolina and Lucas&Lewellen. Have dinner at Cafe Angelica. Stay overnight at the newly re-modeled Kronborg Inn.

Day 2
Breakfast in Solvang at Paula's Pancakes (sit at the counter to avoid a 20-30 minute wait for a table). Head to the R Country Market in Los Olivos to pick up food for a picnic lunch. Head up to Foxen Canyon to taste at Ken Volk, Foxen, Zaca Mesa, Demetria, and Riverbench, and take time to soak in the phenomenal views. Head back down for dinner at the Hitching Post (have their Merlot with one of their steaks, and walk around the bar to view pictures from Sideways), and then stay overnight again at the Kronborg Inn.

Day 3
Make sure you wake up early for a light continental breakfast at the Kronborg Inn because you want to make sure to go taste at the lovely Sunstone Vineyard (Santa Ynez). Afterwards, go eat lunch at The Vineyard House, and go taste at the magnificent Gainey Winery (Santa Ynez) on your way back to the 154 Pass (it's so pretty - why NOT go back this way?). On your way back down the 101, taste in the city (Santa Barbara) at Oreana and Santa Barbara Winery. Dinner at Beachbreak Cafe (cool local joint).

Day 4
You will be TIRED at work, but that just means you had an AWESOME weekend!

***I packed a lot into the itinerary, but you should take out items on the list that do not seem reasonable for your tolerance or price-range. Check store websites for current hours, exact locations, and menus. Please drink responsibly. When in doubt, eat more and stay a while in the town or winery you are in.***


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